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The Negro Motorist Green Book

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The Negro Motorist Green Book
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A series of books from 1936-1966 (later called "The Negro Travelers' Green Book," commonly just called "Green Book") detailing which places black motorists could go that were safe, and which ones were unsafe. Named for original author Victor Hugo Green.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's The Negro Motorist Green Book page on 3 August 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Negro Motorist Green Book (at times styled The Negro Motorist Green-Book or titled The Negro Travelers' Green Book) was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers, commonly referred to simply as the Green Book. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread. Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited black car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could, but faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America, as well as founding a travel agency.

Many Black Americans took to driving, in part to avoid segregation on public transportation. As the writer George Schuyler put it in 1930, "all Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult." Black Americans employed as athletes, entertainers, and salesmen also traveled frequently for work purposes.

African-American travelers faced hardships such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only "sundown towns". Green founded and published the Green Book to avoid such problems, compiling resources "to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable."

From a New York-focused first edition published in 1936, Green expanded the work to cover much of North America, including most of the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The Green Book became "the bible of black travel during Jim Crow", enabling black travelers to find lodgings, businesses, and gas stations that would serve them along the road. It was little known outside the African-American community. Shortly after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed the types of racial discrimination that had made the Green Book necessary, publication ceased and it fell into obscurity. There has been a revived interest in it in the early 21st century in connection with studies of black travel during the Jim Crow era.


Multimedia

DateMedia or Collection Name & DetailsFiles
21 February 2019Green Book Mapped a Safe Route Through Era of Discrimination
Mike Osborne, VOA News

Article Page
- 51.7MB - 2:55


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
1949The Negro Motorist Green Book
Victor Hugo Green

PDF
- 91.9MB - 82 pages


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
18 September 2016Black-owned Travel Sites Today Reflect Black Guidebook of Past Marissa Melton, VOA News
21 February 2019Green Book Mapped Safe Route Through Era of Discrimination Mike Osborne, VOA News


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